Letter from the Editor: Labor Day, 2022
To the Hamilton Community,
Today, Hamilton sent one of the funniest Tweets to cross my timeline in a while. Posted in the morning hours, it read, “No work today? We hope you can take a few minutes to sit and relax wherever you are.” The Tweet then provided a link to Hamilton-themed Zoom backgrounds.
I find this Tweet so funny because, well, Hamilton students, faculty, and staff did not have a day off from work today at all.
The irony, unfortunately, is sorely in character for the College. Though they may wish us a happy Labor Day on Twitter, the College has not exactly been the best employer (if it’s even possible to be a good employer, but then I’d be getting very deep in the theory weeds).
For starters, the minimum wage for student employment on campus is equal to the NY state minimum wage at $13.20—and that’s for the jobs the College deems to have the least skills necessary to have, which is such an antiquated way of thinking that even NYC Mayor Eric Adams uses the term. Though this feels like a mile above the national minimum wage of $7.25, it is still far from a living wage.
Further, Hamilton is clearly prepared to fight any organizing for higher wages. From being faced with a union busting lawyer as soon as they filed for their union and then having the College walk out of the first day of negotiations, the newly formed student admissions worker union has already seen it all. And this is all without mentioning how former VP for Enrollment Monica Inzer called the vote to unionize an “emotional” one.
And this goes all without mentioning all of the labor that Hamilton students do for this campus that goes completely unpaid, from student performers to orientation to student government and so many things in between. If Hamilton students want to have an impact on our lives on campus, they apparently need to volunteer their time completely free of charge. Though this may be the reality of many grassroots organizing projects off the Hill, it still disadvantages many students from being more involved in campus life who need to take minimum wage on-campus jobs instead.
If Hamilton truly believes in the “active citizenship” its mission statement claims, students should be able to receive compensation or credit just as politicians, journalists, and non-profit workers are paid in the rest of the world.
This is not a sustainable work environment. This is not a sustainable campus life.
Hamilton can wish us a happy Labor Day, but I for one want to see them pay for students’ labor like the skilled, hardworking adults that we know that we are.
To celebrate Labor Day, instead of changing our Zoom backgrounds, let’s organize our coworkers and form our next labor union!
Editor-in-Chief of the Monitor